Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Report on trip away to Prince's Grant, Stanger - 6-10 March 2016

Attendees: Val & Stan Culley, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Barry Willis & Sue Hansbury, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen
(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Bird count:  (see end)
Prince’s Grant is an upmarket residential golf estate right on the beach close to Stanger on the KZN North Coast.   The house we stayed in was perfect for us and we had a most enjoyable few days. 
View from Prince's Grant (Hazel van Rooyen)

Our abode (Hazel van Rooyen)
Boy, was it hot though!  On arrival on Sunday afternoon we took a walk through indigenous forest down to the river and up through the parkland, over a sand-dune to the beach, where out on the ocean flocks of seabirds, mostly Swift Terns and a Cape Gannet were dive-bombing into the waves, just like the old Sardine Run days. 
Swift Terns (Hazel van Rooyen)

 Forest birds kept well hidden and silent in the stifling heat except for the ubiquitous Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird pop, pop, popping.  Even a bird hide next to an almost dry pond yielded nothing, but the well-manicured greens of the golf course were ideal foraging for Cape and Pied Wagtails and a pair of Woolly-necked Storks - one seemed to be concentrating on his next putt.  Brown-throated Martins, Lesser-striped, Barn and White-throated Swallows also wheeled and swooped about.
Woolly-necked Stork (Hazel van Rooyen)
Barn Swallow (Hazel van Rooyen)

Dlinza Forest Aerial Walkway (Hazel van Rooyen)
Getting a Bird's Eye View (Hazel van Rooyen)
Monday dawned hot and humid again but undeterred we set off for Eshowe and the Dlinza forest where they have an excellent aerial walkway.  Once again the birds were slow to show themselves but from the amazing viewpoint in the treetops we saw African Harrier Hawk, Trumpeter Hornbill, Black Sawwing, Purple Crested Turaco and enjoyed the songs of Yellow-fronted Canary, Sombre Greenbul and Black-headed Oriole.  We had hoped to see the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon and although we heard it several times in the distance, this too didn’t want to come close enough to be seen.  A pretty brown and white butterfly fluttered about and was identified later as the Blonde glider, female.  Back at the reception/picnic area I looked up into the rafters to find several Golden Orb Web Spiders hanging around looked for prey – fortunately, they didn’t seem to fancy us!

Blonde glider (F) (Hazel van Rooyen)

Golden Orb Web spider (Hazel van Rooyen)

From here we went to what we thought would be an interesting dam, the Phobane Dam but this was very low and only a single lone Egyptian Goose found it of any use.  Where we parked, a few years previous we would have been well under water. 
Turning to the Tugela River mouth for some encouragement, we trudged along the beach in the heat to get a better view of a few Pink-backed and Great White Pelicans in the estuary.  Caspian Tern, White-fronted Plover, African Spoonbill, Little Egret and a Kelp Gull were also spotted.
Great White Pelican (Stan Culley)

Pink-backed Pelican (Stan Culley)

White-fronted Plover (Hazel van Rooyen)

Kittlitz's Plover (Stan Culley)
Sappi in Stanger, which, mainly because the weather turned quite damp, we ended up visiting on Tuesday and Wednesday, proved a life saver and restored our belief in Waders. 
Curlew Sandpiper (transitioning into breeding plumage) (Hazel van Rooyen)

Black-capped Night Heron (Hazel van Rooyen)

Ruff (Hazel van Rooyen
Marsh Sandpiper (Stan Culley)
Wood Sandpiper (Hazel van Rooyen)
 Never have we seen so many Wood Sandpipers, which we first saw flashing their white rumps along the puddled access road leading to the ponds and were so numerous, along with Blackwing Stilts, Little Stints, Ruffs, Curlew Sandpipers (transitioning into breeding plumage), Glossy Ibis and African Jacanas to mention just a few.  I must give a big Thankyou here to Stan Culley for helping us distinguish between all the different waders, without his help we would still be paging through our bird books trying to identify them.  We were also lucky to see an African Rail several times criss-crossing the pathway between the ponds and the reedy river bed.  Of particular excitement on Tuesday was the appearance of the Baillon’s Crake, a furtive but fast little wader which we spotted again on Wednesday.  At the hide the by now famous Spotted Crake eventually showed itself causing photographers jostling at the window to get their best shot.
Baillon's Crake (Stan Culley)

The most photographed Spotted Crake (Hazel van Rooyen)

Spotted Crake (Hazel van Rooyen)

The weather put a bit of a damper on a couple of days but true to form Barry & Sue saved the day with some fun games which kept us all alternately laughing and groaning and it cleared up in the evenings long enough for us to braai.

Thanks Barry & Sue for finding the venue at short notice and to everyone for their good company and knowledge-sharing.
Malachite Kingfisher (Stan Culley)
(All photos property of photographer)
Barbet Black-collared
Barbet Crested
Barbet White-eared
Bee-eater White-fronted
Bishop Southern Red
Bulbul Dark-capped
Buzzard Steppe
Cameroptera Green-backed
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cormorant Reed
Cormorant White-fronted
Coucal Burchell’s
Crake Baillon’s
Crake Black
Crake Spotted
Crow Pied         
Cuckoo Diederick
Darter African
Dove Cape Turtle
Dove Red-eyed
Drongo Fork-tailed
Drongo Square-tailed
Duck White-faced
Duck Yellow-billed
Eagle African Fish
Eagle Long-crested
Egret Great

Egret Little
Fiscal Common
Flycatcher Southern Black
Gannet Cape
Goose Egyptian
Goose Spur-winged
Grebe Little
Greenbul Sombre
Gull Kelp
Harrier-Hawk African
Heron Black-headed
Heron Goliath
Heron Grey
Heron Purple
Heron Squacco
Hornbill Trumpeter
Ibis Glossy
Ibis Hadeda
Ibis Sacred
Jacana African
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Kingfisher Malachite
Kingfisher Pied
Kite Black-shouldered
Kite Yellow-billed

Lapwing Blacksmith
Martin Brown-throated
Moorhen Common
Mousebird Speckled
Myna Common
Night-Heron Black-crowned
Oriole Black-headed
Pelican Great White
Pelican Pink-backed
Plover Three-banded
Plover Common Ringed
Plover Kittlitz’s
Plover White-fronted
Rail African
Sandpiper Curlew
Sandpiper Marsh
Sandpiper Wood
Saw-wing Black
Sparrow House
Spoonbill African
Spurfowl Natal
Starling Black-bellied
Starling Cape Glossy
Starling Red-winged
Stilt Black-winged

Stint Little
Stork Woolly-necked
Sunbird Amethyst
Swallow Barn
Swallow Lesser-striped
Swallow White-throated
Swamphen African Purple
Swamp-Warbler Lesser
Teal Hottentot
Teal Red-billed
Tern Caspian
Tern Swift
Tern Whiskered
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Turaco Purple-crested
Wagtail Cape
Wagtail Pied
Warbler Sedge
Warbler Willow
Weaver Cape
Weaver Southern Masked
Weaver Village


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